When you hear about networking, what comes to mind? At first, I thought of planting a seed for a tree and watching the tree slowly grow. But I don’t care for that analogy, because when you plant seeds for say, an apple tree, it may grow slowly, but in the end you get: apples. When you plant networking seeds, you might get apples or oranges or watermelon or rotten tomatoes. Or all of the above. So maybe magical seeds with unknown results?
Last week I blogged about a local TweetUp, where I met a variety of people who connected via Twitter. One of the organizers of the event, Eva Abreu, asked the following question this week on Twitter (F2F = Face to Face):
If you’ve attended a Tweetup or other F2F networking event, what tip would you give someone who is going for the first time?
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I responded with a brief tweet, part of which said “bring a smile.” Then I emailed Eva these ideas:
1. Think before the TweetUp:
What do you want to accomplish?
If you have unrealistic expectations, you may be disappointed. On the other hand, you could also plant some good networking seeds.
– You probably won’t make direct sales. You might, but you also might annoy others who are trying to promote their businesses, too.
– Make contacts with people in fields related to your own? Different from own? Be open to new ideas.
– Look at the Twitvite to see who is coming. If you know a little about each person, that will help with meeting others.
2. During the event:
Introduce yourself to as many people as possible in the room. Smile. Bring business cards. Ask them questions about their business or hobbies or what brought them to the TweetUp. Listen carefully to other conversations, and try to share something related when the conversation pauses.
3. After the TweetUp:
Follow on Twitter those that made an impression on you. If there is a hashtag for the event, such as #cnjtu, follow it using search.twitter.com or by dedicating a column in TweetDeck to a search of#cnjtu. Assuming you collected a variety of business cards, you can try emailing anyone who doesn’t appear to use Twitter much with whom you want to connect. Read others’ Tweets, and respond to some of them by asking questions or retweeting. Let the seeds grow slowly. Some people are more open to sharing ideas than others. Some may be busier at different times of the day/week and more available at others.
Try to attend another TweetUp, too, and encourage any friend who might benefit.
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What would you suggest to someone about to attend a networking event? Have you ever been to a networking event? Or a professional event, where you don’t know any of the other people, but want to get to know them better?
Eva and Jennifer Fong, another organizer of our local Tweetup (see her latest post on social capital), will both be on blogtalkradio speaking about Twitter Tweetup Tips on Friday, March 6 at 11 am EST. Should be an interesting 15 minutes!